In a recent phone conversation with a male friend overseas, I asked him what was for dinner. ‘A left-over piece of chicken, a slice of ham, a can of sardines and a piece of cheese’, was his prompt reply. ‘Where’s the vegetables’, I replied. ‘Ah, well, you have a lot of work to do in my case, Donna’.
So where are the vegetables? With every proponent of health and wellness touting the benefits of fresh vegetables, why is it that so many people are lacking them in their daily diet? With all the research and findings of the importance of fibre and antioxidants (which vegetables provide a lot of), why is it too much work for people to include vegetables?
Here in Cayman, many Caribbean-born people tell me that vegetables have not been traditionally part of the local diet, especially salad type vegetables, and that they have a hard time thinking of vegetables as ‘real food’. Is this an outdated belief that needs to be brought in-line with today’s wisdom and knowledge of nutrition? How much more are vegetables ‘real food’ than the world of cellophane wrapped products that fill supermarket baskets? These are questions we all have to consider, as health and wellness is founded upon a healthy diet.
Part of the problem with eating vegetables consistently seems to lie in the fact that they take a little more effort to prepare, or so I’m told. Cleaning, slicing, chopping and tossing seem so much work for the tired and weary, and it’s so much easier to slap a piece of ham between two slices of bread and call it dinner.
Healthy living includes challenging oneself to overcome outdated mindsets over food as well as making the effort to include vegetables daily. With Cayman’s wonderful supermarkets stocked with fresh and conveniently packaged veggies, we really have little to complain about in terms of convenience. Much of the produce is already washed and chopped for us.
Take advantage of the abundance of fresh vegetables available. Check out excellent quality frozen vegetables for your freezer. Plan to eat a salad daily for its high fibre and nutritious qualities. Take extra time to prepare and serve at least two servings of vegetables with your evening meal. For the weight conscious, realise that when we under eat vegetables, we are usually overeating processed carbohydrates like bread and crackers.
For my friend with the high protein dinner of sardines, cheese, chicken and ham, going green by adding a salad would do much to create a healthy balance. Sometimes a guy needs a girl’s help, so encourage your partners to increase vegetables in their diet. Ladies seem to know a lot about salad!